Objective: To describe the scientific evidence that supports each of the explicit process measures in the Arthritis Foundation's Quality Indicator Set for Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Methods: For each of the 27 measures in the Arthritis Foundation's Quality Indicator set, a comprehensive literature review was performed for evidence that linked the process of care defined in the indicator with relevant clinical outcomes and to summarize practice guidelines relevant to the indicators.
Results: Over 7500 titles were identified and reviewed. For each of the indicators the scientific evidence to support or refute the quality indicator was summarized. We found direct evidence that supported a process-outcome link for 15 of the indicators, an indirect link for 7 of the indicators, and no evidence to support or refute a link for 5. The processes of care described in the indicators for which no supporting/refuting data were found have been assumed to be so essential to care that clinical trails assessing their importance have not, and probably never will be, performed. The process of care described in all but 2 of the indicators is recommended in 1 or more practice guidelines.
Conclusion: There are sufficient scientific evidence and expert consensus to support the Arthritis Foundation's Quality Indicator Set for Rheumatoid Arthritis, which defines a minimal standard of care that can be used to assess health care quality for patients with rheumatoid arthritis.